My career as an English professor, department chair, and dean informs my current work as the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University Kokomo, where I oversee five schools (Business, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Nursing, and Sciences), as well as one division (Allied Health Sciences) and the library. As EVCAA, I collaborate with six deans, as well as numerous other colleagues, to promote student and faculty success, launch and improve academic programs, hire and evaluate faculty, and oversee a $20 million budget in Academic Affairs. Furthermore, as a member of the Chancellor's Cabinet, I work with the chancellor and other senior campus leaders on matters relating to advancement, athletics, budgeting, enrollment, external relations, facilities, student affairs, and technology.
During this dynamic era for higher education, leaders must remain abreast of the ongoing developments and research in enrollment, diversity and inclusion, student success, and more. I enjoy engaging in this kind of professional development and lifelong learning, and I make a point of recording numbers, insights, and best practices in my notes. Summaries of these notes are available here in this online portfolio.
My Approach to Leadership
Effective leadership centers on a crucial principle: leaders empower people and not the other way around. Putting people first is not only the most ethical way to lead, but also the most effective. After all, in any organization, the knowledge and skills of the people vastly exceed those of any one leader. Effective leaders do not try to lead with their own knowledge and skills alone, but rather tap the vast resources of the people in the organization and help to channel them toward success.
This approach requires leaders to listen, to build trust, to support, and, most of all, to believe in people. Listening enables leaders to learn from others and deploy their ideas. Equally important—and too often overlooked—is another, crucial lesson that comes from listening: only when leaders know what others are thinking and feeling can they serve and inspire them. Leaders also should seek to build trust, which, as Stephen M. R. Covey has argued in The Speed of Trust, facilitates progress in any organization. When people trust in leaders’ abilities and integrity, they are more likely to contribute to the success of the organization. Support involves providing people with the tools they need to succeed: professional development and resources, but also emotional support. I have begun employing the “Four Simple Actions” strategy promoted by Indiana University Human Resources: “ASK me what I think,” “TELL me what you expect of me,” “SAY something positive about my work,” and “SHARE information that will help me.” Ultimately, effective leadership boils down to faith in people. When leaders believe that the people around them are capable and dedicated, they are more likely to empower them—and good things will happen.
Of course, there is much more to effective leadership—enough to fill countless books, articles, and podcasts on this topic. Without summarizing all of the possible tools and strategies, I will touch on three that are particularly important to me. First is integrity. For me, honesty, justice, and inclusion are both means and ends. Second is vision. The daily onslaught of pressing concerns makes it difficult to see what is possible, but one of the most important roles a leader can play is to help everyone realize a collective vision. Third is follow-through. After all, as Thomas Edison put it, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” To become realities, good ideas require nurture and sheer tenacity.
In my career as a leader in higher education, I have enjoyed several opportunities to collaborate with talented, creative, dedicated colleagues on numerous initiatives to serve out institutions.
As EVCAA at Indiana University Kokomo, I have led the development and implementation of the Kokomo Experience and You (KEY), a four-year program of High-Impact Practices and other transformative learning experiences, such as freshman learning communities, retreats, capstone experiences, internships, research and community projects, and trips to corporate offices, museums, historic sites, and natural settings in Silicon Valley, Yellowstone National Park, New York, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, and other destinations. I also have served as the campus leader of Re-Imagining the First Year, a national student-success program sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Under this program, my colleagues and I on the Campus Innovation Team launched a Student Success Academy for faculty, revamped some Freshman Learning Communities to include Student Success Seminars, and crafted other initiatives to promote success in the first year. At the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, when I noticed that students were identifying informal teachers or advisors and going to them for help, I formed the Go-to Faculty, a team focused on helping students, and went to work publicizing and training them. Another initiative, Rush Your Major, helped to connect hundreds of students with faculty and departments at UNCP. In the areas of program development and fundraising, I have played a central role in launching the program in Southeast American Indian Studies, which capitalizes on UNCP’s heritage and expertise, and raising money for the establishment of an endowed chair. Still other initiatives—our Online Quality Task Force, Writing Intensive Program, Faculty Recognition Luncheon, Listening Tour, and more—helped to develop our curriculum, promote faculty success, and connect with our community.
Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Indiana University Kokomo, April 2015-present
Acting Dean and Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 2011-2015
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, UNCP, 2010-2011
Chair, Department of English and Theatre, UNCP, 2009-2010
President, Thomas Wolfe Society, 2015-2017
Vice President, Thomas Wolfe Society, 2013-2015
Peer Reviewer, Higher Learning Commission, 2016-present
Notes on Higher Education
KEY (Kokomo Experience and You), 2015-present
Mind Over Chatter ($50,000 grant for project to teach media literacy)
Information Literacy Online Toolkit (grant for creation of online toolkit)
Re-Imagining the First Year, 2016-2018
Go-to Faculty, 2012-2015
Skills for a New Economy (ETS) Advisory Board, 2019-present
Re-Imagining the First Year, 2016-present
IU Kokomo Experience and You (KEY), 2015-present
Faculty Athletic Associate, 2013-2015
Co-curricular Book Clubs, 2013-2014
Go-to Faculty, 2012-2015
Rush Your Major, 2012-2013
Student Success Steering Committee, 2009-2010
Take Five Newsletter, 2015-present
Faculty Recognition Luncheons, 2013-2015
Scholarship Showcase, 2013
Dean’s Supplemental Travel Fund, 2012-2015
Annual, Tenure, Promotion, and Post-tenure Evaluations, 2012-2015
Task Force for Teaching Excellence, 1999-2015
Fundraising & Program Development
Southeast American Indian Studies, 2012-2015
Campaign for Endowed Chair in AIS, 2012-2015
Curriculum Planning and Assessment
Online Quality Task Force, 2009-2015
Writing Intensive Program, 2007-2015
Graduate Committee on English Education, 1997-2000
Cream and Crimson Scholarship Interviews, 2016-present
Presentations for Parents, Students, and School Counselors, 2012-2015
Department Recruitment Committee, 2003-2008
Scholars Council’s Listening Tour, 2010
Faculty Interviews on Local Radio, 2011-2015
Storytelling & Arts Center Board, 2012-2015
Executive Leadership Academy, American Academic Leadership Institute, 2018-2019
Peer Reviewer Certification, Higher Learning Commission, October 2016
Executive Leadership Institute, Indiana University, 2015-2016
Fiscal Officer Development Series, Indiana University, 2015-2016
Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, Harvard University, June 2014
Becoming a Provost Academy, American Academic Leadership Institute, 2014